You don’t have to be a professional nail tech to achieve your favorite trending manis. With the help of a few basic materials and this guide, even nail art beginners can master beautiful designs, including ocean nails. 

Ocean nails have grown in popularity in recent months, and it’s no wonder! This particular brand of nail art features all of the elements of a gorgeous seascape and will make it easy for you to have a beach getaway in your mind, no matter where you are IRL. 

Scroll on to learn more about creating ocean nails.

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How to Create Ocean Nails

Like every ocean and beach, every ocean manicure will be a little different. We’ll break down some of the variations shortly. 

In the meantime, regardless of how you decide to approach your ocean nails, you’ll need to have a few nail art basics on hand, including:

  • Transparent glittery nail polish
  • Nail polish in various shades of blue 
  • Metallic nail polish in gold and silver 
  • Small nail gems or pearls, which you can find online (you’ll need nail glue for these too!)
  • Transparent top coat 
  • A skinny nail art brush

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Start With Sand 

blue wave nails
Source: instagram
For a style like @ohmynailsnyc has, use a clear coat or transparent glitter polish as your base layer. 

As with any style of nail art, ocean nails require you to start with a base layer. You might choose a transparent glitter polish, a pale blue polish, a neutral beige polish, or a clear coat. It all depends on your vision! This base coat represents the sand of your pint-sized beach. 

Step 2: Add White Polish for Sea Foam  

blue wave nails different angle
Source: instagram
Use white polish to add foam to your ocean nails, like these by @sweetsolace.

Once your base coat—or sand!—is dry, it’s time for a new layer to add dimension to your seascape. Using a thin nail art brush and starting roughly halfway down your nail, apply white polish to illustrate the foam that comes in on top of ocean waves. Paint from the middle of your nail to the tip, but don’t worry about perfection! In fact, it will better mimic an ocean if it’s a bit uneven and swirly. 

Step 3: Bring on the Blue! 

blue wave nails
Source: instagram 
Use shades of blue to create the actual ocean, like @balhamnailsandbeauty did with these ocean nails. 

Now you can get really creative! Use any combination of blue and turquoise shades to draw out the ocean waves, starting just below the white layer and going to the tip of your nail. This should look a little different on every nail, and feel free to make it abstract or as neat as you’d like. 

Step 4: Apply Top Coat

Use a basic, transparent top coat to lock in the layers of color and design you’ve made so far. Let it dry so you can enjoy the product of your efforts! 

Practice Nail Art 101

The Nail Trail: The Beginner’s Guide to Nail Art 

Step 5: Add Beachy Details

opalescent nails
Source: instagram
Clear nail gems are one of the many extra touches you can add to ocean nails, like these by @margaritadidthat

Want to take your ocean nails to the next level? Once your polish and top coat dry, consider adding beachy details like:

  • Clear nail gems, which can look like bubbles in the water 
  • Nail pearls or other metallic nail gems for extra sparkle 
  • Bits of gold or silver metallic polish for added texture 

If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you might even try drawing starfish, fish, crabs, dolphins, or other ocean creatures on your nails with a skinny nail art brush. 

Sea Yourself With Beautiful Nails! 

If you’ve ever wanted to try DIY nail art yourself, consider this your invitation to go for it! Ocean nails will look gorgeous during any season, and you can mix the details up as you gain confidence. Look down at your manicure and take a deep breath… you might just feel like you’re by a peaceful ocean! 

Get Next Level Nails

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Written by:

Alli Hoff Kosik